'Green in the Rainbow' Project: The Climate Emergency and Sexual and Gender Minorities
Throughout 2022 we undertook a research project examining the impacts of the Climate Emergency on sexual and gender minorities, looking in detail at the ways in which their marginalisation makes them vulnerable to climate change.
Thanks to funding from the National Lottery: Together for Our Planet Initiative, ReportOUT are excited to publish our report on this issue, A Crisis of Queer Invisibility: Climate Change as a Risk Multiplier for LGBTQ People
We were motivated to undertake this project having noticed that a consideration of the impact of climate change (Climate Emergency) on sexual and gender minorities is largely absent in mainstream climate discourse.
The aim of the project was therefore to:
Draw some attention to this issue.
By examining the extent to which climate change creates specific and heightened harms for sexual and gender minorities.
Climate discourse has increasingly accepted that certain groups of people are more greatly affected by the climate crisis due to their position in society. We believe that sexual and gender minorities, as one of the most marginalised groups of people, are therefore likely to be severely impacted by the climate emergency.
Why the Climate Emergency?
In its Fifth Assessment Report (2014), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world, under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded that there is a more than a 95% probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet. The devasting effects of the climate emergency are already being felt, and it is clear that without significant action, climate change will have an increasingly catastrophic impact in the coming years.
Whilst we are all affected as humans by the Climate Emergency, we do know that some groups in society are affected by climate change much more than others. It is becoming very clear that marginalised groups, such as sexual and gender minorities, are more likely to be affected by the impacts of the Climate Emergency.
Thorough review of existing literature on this topic - It quickly became clear that there is little existing material on the issue of climate vulnerability on sexual and gender minorities.
Broadened out the review to literature - Including the impacts of climate change generally, the marginalisation of sexual and gender minorities, and the failures of state response to crises.
Creating a picture of the types of harms that sexual and gender minorities may face, why these harms may be heightened due to societal marginalisation, and the position of state mechanisms to adequately respond to the needs of sexual and gender minorities.
Original research - an online survey of self-identifying LGBTQI+ people across the world. This survey aimed to understand the extent to which sexual and gender minorities are:
Aware of the impacts of the Climate Emergency.
The extent that they have experienced these impacts in their lives, and:
What actions they feel should be taken to better protect sexual and gender minorities from these harms.
Our research endorses the concept of climate change as a ‘risk multiplier’. This is the idea that existing vulnerabilities interact with the harms caused by the climate crisis, creating new and heightened harms for sexual and gender minorities, and their communities.
The report documents some of the key drivers of the marginalisation of sexual and gender minorities globally, including criminalisation and discrimination, and considered how they interact with the recorded human impacts of the climate crisis to create heightened risks. The responses to our survey were interwoven into this analysis to demonstrate the present and anticipated ways in which the crisis is manifesting in the lives of sexual and gender minorities.
The report also considered various examples of state failures to address the needs of sexual and gender minorities in crises situations, which compounds the harms that they face.
Project AimThe Green in the Rainbow project is a year-long research project that seeks to highlight the disproportionate and specific effects of the climate emergency on sexual and gender minorities, and to support LGBTQI+ communities to engage with the response to climate change and ensure that their needs are recognised and fulfilled. The project seeks to situate the challenges faced by the LGBTQI+ community, including marginalisation, homelessness, and limited access to specific healthcare needs, within the broader context of the climate emergency. These challenges will be exacerbated by a deteriorating climate where public resources are funnelled towards tackling climate breakdown. In this context sexual and gender minorities may find themselves left behind and marginalised from the response to the emergency.
Project ScopeThis is a project focused mainly on issues in the UK, but it will also include global case studies and stakeholder mapping, recognising that the climate emergency knows no geographic boundaries.
Project OutcomesThe project will consist of three main outcomes: Literature review – we will engage in an extensive review of existing published academic literature, civil society resources, and media reports documenting the impacts of the climate emergency on sexual and gender minorities. We will highlight the key themes within the literature with a particular focus on their relevance for the LGBTQI+ community in the UK. Global outreach – we will engage with international organisations representing and working with sexual and gender minorities to understand and document the impacts that they are already facing, or are expecting to face, in respect of the climate emergency and its effects on human rights and development. UK engagement – we will work with UK-based LGBTQI+ organisations to ascertain their understanding of the climate emergency and its effects on our communities, and their organisational preparedness to tackle these effects and respond to the crisis. Together these outcomes will inform a final report summarising the impact of the climate emergency on LGBTQI+ people in the UK, and containing a set of recommendations for organisations and other stakeholders to implement. The dissemination of these findings will be aided by public workshops to increase awareness of the issues raised. We hope that this project will further the understanding of the effects that climate change will have on the LGBTQI+ community, and help to build an intersectional network to fight for the specific needs of sexual and gender minorities as the crisis worsens.
Our key recommendations include a list of actions to:
Address the marginalisation of sexual and gender minorities.
Address specific climate risk factors which affect sexual and gender minorities.
Improve state crisis management.
Raise awareness, expertise, and resilience.
Decriminalise LGBTQ identities through the removal of laws prohibiting same-sex activity and gender expression
and the equalisation of ages of consent
Provide funding for LGBTQ community projects, centres, and networks to strengthen community ties and reduce
Adopt queer-inclusive disaster preparation policies by engaging with LGBTQ people to understand needs, legislate
to require emergency response plans to consider impacts on LGBTQ people.
We believe that we must engage with the Climate Emergency, now more than ever, to help meet Goal 13: Climate Action, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
You can read about what our Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Officers are doing at ReportOUT by clicking here